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Four UW-Eau Claire Students Chosen for Prestigious Gilman Scholarships

RELEASED: Dec. 19, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — Four University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students have received scholarships to study abroad for the 2009 spring semester through the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Sophomore Tara Stefan, St. Louis Park, Minn., was awarded $5,000 to study in Costa Rica, and senior Adam Nelson, Mankato, Minn., was awarded $4,500 to study in the Czech Republic through the Global Student Teaching organization. Junior James Marsh, Madison, received $3,000 to attend the University of Graz, in Austria, and junior Glenn Terpstra, Bloomington, Minn., was awarded $3,000 to attend the University of Leiden in the Netherlands through the International Student Exchange Program, ISEP-Direct.

Tara Stefan
Tara Stefan

Stefan, an elementary education major with a Spanish teaching minor, said she always knew she wanted to study abroad but wasn't sure she'd be able to because of the cost. She said she's grateful that the Gilman Scholarship has made it possible to pursue her goals.

While studying in Costa Rica, Stefan will send regular e-mails and photos to the second grade class at Longfellow Elementary School that she worked with during her one of her elementary education classes. She chose Costa Rica because the culture there is different from other Spanish speaking countries and she's excited at the prospect of learning more about it.

"I also chose Costa Rica because I will fulfill my service learning hours there working with a local school or community," Stefan said. "This is exciting to me, as an education major, to see how children learn in another culture."

Adam Nelson
Adam Nelson

Nelson, a secondary education major in physical science, believes student teaching abroad will be an amazing opportunity to prepare himself as a professional educator at the middle and high school levels. He will teach at the British International School in Prague.

"I will get to experience a vastly different culture than what I'm used to and learn how education is similar to and different from here in the United States," Nelson said. "The Gilman Scholarship has made it possible for me to pursue this opportunity. I can't thank them enough for the scholarship, which will help me get the most out of this experience."

James Marsh
James Marsh

Marsh, who has a double major in political science and German, said he is looking forward to being in a German-speaking environment and hopes to gain fluency in normal conversation and more German vocabulary in political science, which he will continue to study at the University of Graz.

"One day I hope to become involved in international politics at the United Nations and spending time abroad will give me a new perspective of the world," Marsh said. "Also, as a runner on the UW-Eau Claire cross country and track teams, I plan to get some quality high altitude training while in Austria."

Terpstra, an art major with an emphasis in photography and graphic design, will study Dutch culture and art history in the city of Leiden at Leiden University. He is the first UW-Eau Claire student to study in the Netherlands. Ever since he did a report on his ancestral country in the sixth grade, he has wanted to visit the Netherlands, Terpstra said. When he returns, he will make a presentation to a sixth-grade class in the middle school where he first dreamed of studying abroad, and he also will share his experiences with other UW-Eau Claire students interested in studying in The Netherlands.

"During the spring 2009 application cycle, the Gilman program received 1,465 applications for 600 possible awards," said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, a study abroad coordinator in the Center for International Education. "It speaks well of our programs that we continue to have more students successfully applying for this award each year."

The Gilman International Scholarship Program, established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, provides awards that allow American undergraduate students who receive federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education through its Southern Regional Center in Houston.

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NW/JB

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